UK and International School Specialists
Working with over 5000 schools in the UK
Over 800 International Schools in more than 65 countries.
Patrick Ryan
Patrick Ryan

All About Patrick Ryan

Patrick is an experienced storyteller who tells  traditional folk and fairy tales. His repertoire also includes  ghost stories, legends, myths, riddles, rhymes, singing games, and finger/movement games. Patrick can recite stories from all around the world but the majority of tales he’s collected from Irish, British and Midwestern America traditions.

An enthusiastic and engaging speaker, Patrick is able to work with children aged 3 upwards – all the way to adulthood.


Patrick’s achievements and experiences:

• Fellow of the English Association (2006 to present)

• Writer-in-Residence, Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture (CCWOC), University of Manitoba, Winnepeg, Canada. 2011

• Storyteller, Writer-in-Schools programme, Poetry Ireland, 1994 to present

• Storyteller-in-Residence, International Storytelling Center, Jonesborouogh, Tennessee, USA. 2004

• Mentor for the Writers-in-Schools programme, Poetry Ireland. 2004 to present

• Storyteller-in-Residence (lead artist) for Kick into Reading, a literacy project that trained professional footballers and coaches tell stories to children to promote pleasure reading and library use, run initially by Oxfordshire Libraries (1999-2001) and then National Literacy Trust in clubs throughout England and Wales (2001-2011)

• Storyteller in Residence for Centro Internazionale Studi, Veneto, Italy. 1991 to present

• Storyteller in Residence, Moscow Children’s Book Fair. 2012

• Research Fellow, George Ewart Evans for Storytelling (GEECS), University of South Wales, 2007-2017

• Bursary Storyteller, Armstrong Storytelling Bursary (serving all libraries in N Ireland), 2017 to present

• Numerous publications in both peer-reviewed and professional journals, on storytelling, folklore, narrative and cognition, storytelling and literacy, storytelling and creative writing, storytelling and literature.

• Resident storyteller for various projects and festivals since 1989 to present: Verbal Arts Centre (Derry); Writing Together Project (NAWE); Scottish Storyteling Centre; National Literacy Trust; Discover Story Centre; the Ark, Dublin; University of Chicago Laboratory Schools; International Schools, including Brussels, Washington DC, Paris, Milan, Bologna, Como, Treviso, Frankfurt, Munich, Bavarian, Luxembourg, Zurich, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Nice, Valencia, Hong Kong, Marymount, and Chicago; Folk & Storytelling Festivals including: Wild Onion (Chicago) Illinois State, Sidmouth Whitby, Towersey, Warwick, Broadstairs, Chippenham, Festival at the Edge, Cape Clear, Amsterdam International School, Farmleagh Storytelling Festival (Dublin), What’s the Story at Old Mother Recap’s (Dublin), Siamsa MacManus (Donegal), Béal Oscailte (Kiltimagh, Mayo), Ulster Storytelling Festival, Yarn Storytelling Festival (Bray), Scottish Storytelling Festival, Chicago Folk Festival; New Salem Folk Festival, Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar (Derry)

• Regular Conference Speaker and Workshop Leader since 1989 to present for: ECIS; YLG; Early Childhood Association; Early Excellence; UKLA; Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago), IBBY UK, IBBY Ireland, IBBY Congress (Spain, UK, Greece), National Literacy Trust, Poetry Out Loud (USA), Association of Chief Librarians, British Council, NATE, NAWE.

• Training, Consultancy, Research Reports: Storytelling in Ireland: A Reawakening (report on current state of storytelling in all of Ireland, published by VAC, commissioned by Minister for Culture Michael D Higgins); Still Spellbound: Story Times in Welsh Museums Libraries and Archives, (for CyMAL); Accredited Courses in Storytelling (CyMAL; University of South Wales; Coasts and Glens OCN, Antrim), International School of Brussels Summer School, Vale of Glamorgan Libraries, CAT-Childrens’ books And Talk (Staff enrichment programme for Oldham Libraries, improving staff’s product knowledge of children’s books via a reading-group scheme), Early Excellence courses, Thames Valley Early Childhood Centre inset-days, Greenfield School District, Wisconsin inset-days, Springfield School District, Illinois inset-days, Neighborhood Bridges/Minneapolis Children’s Theatre/Univeristy of Minnesota Summer Conference and Summer Course (a projct that was originated by Jack Zipes and George Soros)



Examples of suggested formats for a visit from Patrick:

Sample one:  One-day residency.  4 45-60 minute long sessions for 60 to 100 listeners of around the same age; in each session different stories and word activities are told. For nursery and KS1 classes, usually 3 to 4 traditional folktales are told, accompanied by participatory singing, rhyming, movement and/or finger play games; for KS2, 3 and 4 classes usually 3-4 traditional folktales, legends, myths and/or ghost stories are told, along with riddles. Patrick has over 700 traditional stories to choose from in his repertoire, so he has plenty of material for all ages, topics, seasons and themes.  The traditional stories come from many cultures around the world. In a one-hour session Patrick generally presents a mix of genres and sources, so there is story that is an unknown variant of a well know fairy tale, a story with a strong female protagonist, a story from another culture, and a story with some form of participation.

Sample two:  If a school is so large that Patrick can’t see all the students over 4 sessions, then we schedule a 20-25 minute session for nursery, and then 5 30-35 minute sessions for groups of 60-100; or, if the school is still too large and wants Patrick to see all students then we suggest booking a two day visit, with either the 4 45-60 minute session format or the 6 30-35 minute session format.


Sample three:  Workshops.  Sometimes schools book a full day of workshops, instead of a full day of storytelling sessions, or book 2 storytelling sessions for 60 to 100 listeners and then 2 workshops.  Workshops in a full-day or half-day format are 60 minutes long and for a maximum of 30 participants (one class).  Workshops have different content and formats:

Generally all workshop use storytelling and oral activities that engage the entire group.

Teacher presence and participation is necessary to allow meaningful follow up and extension of the activities in the workshop

Workshops can focus on how to tell stories, on topic work, or creative writing:

  1. How to tell stories—activities include focusing on how to visualise, how to use rhythm and repetition, and short simple stories are modelled and the students re-tell them; pupils work in pairs; if it’s an extended workshop (two hours or more, or series of one hour workshops) then some or all of the participants tell stories to the entire group. This is for year 3 through adult.
  2. Creative writing—activities are based upon or drawn from Gianni Rodari’s The Grammar of Fantasy, collaborations with Jack ZIpes and Maria Asp’s Neighborhood Bridges project with Minneapolis Children’s Theatre, Early Childhood Conferences with June Counsel, and activities created by Patrick as a teacher or artist in residence participating in projects with the VAC, NAWE, NLT, IBBY, and the Discover Centre. So these may be exercises like The Fantastic Binominal, JC’s story circle, MORERAPS, The Story Hand, What If.., Yes-And, Surreal Stories, Story Mapping, Collaborative Writing.  In a one-hour workshop the content is usually a visualisation activity, one activity like the Fantastic Binominal, and then 10 minutes of focused writing with a countdown technique, and sharing of stories or poems. Patrick has creative writing workshops for year 1 through adult
  3. Topic work—Again, activities are based upon storytelling and oral activities similar to how-to-tell and writing workshops. Topics may focus upon: a specific Shakespeare play (The Tempest, As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Taming of the Shrew have been the most common); another work of literature (especially Dickens, and in Italy works by Yeats, Synge, Shaw, Joyce, Beckett and Heaney); a period of history (most common: Vikings, Tudors, Victorians, Egyptians, WWI, WWII, Irish Famine); or a ‘multicultural’ or ‘cross community’ topic (a specific country, a theme like peace, war, the environment).
  4. Pre-service and In-service training (Teachers, classroom assistants, librarians, library assistants, sports coaches) and Parent/Family workshops and talks. Patrick has a long history of providing training for educators and community leaders on how to develop their storytelling and use storytelling in the classroom, in formal and informal educational settings, and also how to teach creative writing and literature appreciation.  Patrick also has less formal programmes for parents’ nights and family workshops.  These usually are scheduled either as twilight sessions after school or in the evening after a full day working with the students (1 to 2 hours long), half-day or full-day workshops (usually for inset or professional days or conferences), and for a 2 or 3-day long course (9.30-3.30 pm with breaks).  Accredited courses can also be provided through the George Ewart Evans Centre for storytelling, and consist of a one-day course with required pre- and post-course work for accreditation. Patrick finds the 2-3 day unaccredited course or the one-day accredited course the most effective for developed sustained storytelling practices in libraries and classrooms.


Patrick’s Book

Shakespeare’s Storybook

Shakespeare’s Storybook: folktales that inspired the bard. With Illustrations by James Mayhew. Published by Barefoot Books

A collection of stories that inspired seven of Shakespeare’s best-known plays includes tales of adventure, love, destiny, and magic.


Reviews for Shakespeare’s Storybook

“A spirited celebration of the English pastoral, full of flight and movement and colour” TES


“This is a book to read cover to cover, to dip into, and to return to time and again.”
Children’s Books Ireland–INIS


“These tales are beautifully told and the folk tales have been painstakingly researched” Education Observer


Feedback from Storytelling Performances:

“Patrick Ryan, a long time favourite, is very much a main man of the British storytelling scene.”

Alan Bearman, director, Sidmouth Folk Festival


“A wonderful storyteller!”

Sonia Ritter, Director of the Lion’s part Theatre Company (producers of Twelfth Night, May Games and October Plenty festivals at the Globe, Bankside, Borough Market and The George Inn)


“Great way to start the new year: lots of fabulous moments with inspiring stories”

School Librarian


“The kids loved it.”

Education Officer, River Island Arts Centre


“Your events are really fabulous.”

County Librarian, Ireland



Feedback from courses and workshops:

“Pat was clear and concise in his facilitating. I learned a lot.”

“Great presentation, interesting and challenging”

“Pat Ryan is an entertainment; he has a great knowledge of the history of storytelling, as well as an interesting background and training”

“Lots of variety, interesting suggestions, plenty of references to follow-up”

“Beautifully structured and a great body of material covered”

“Pat was awesome, I learned a lot and developed”

“Pat really knows his craft and gave a good mix of information and exercises”.

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about Patrick Ryan, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on   +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at